John Floridis | October Surprise

New album is another instrumental success from one of Montana’s best guitarists

New Albums
John Floridis, October Surprise
John Floridis mines music he wrote in 2008 in new album.

Missoula guitarist, composer and singer John Floridis has an instrumental album out that once again showcases his melodic and technical abilities.

October Surprise features 11 songs he wrote for a 2008 video project in Alaska, “Glacier Bay Serenity.” Afterwards, Floridis wanted to go in a different direction, so he didn’t think about releasing the music until confronted with surprise heart surgery in October last year. Hence, the album’s title.

Floridis says his guitar sound was different back then, due to the lack of long fingernails on his pickin’ hand; he had begun experimenting with that softer sound, and it’s evident here. The previously unnamed tracks got their inventive titles after his surgery, adding a reflective dimension to the works.

The title tune is moody and silky, with a Spanish flair; triplets abound and a quiet bass line anchors the whole. “Believe It or Not” is a slow march that finds Floridis flitting from a minor to a major key and adding a unison bass lead, one of his trademarks. At the same time, it’s playful and waltzy. The tasteful “It Was There All Along” has lots of drone-y notes, like the soft clanging of a bell, simple and clean.

On “Bionic 54,” Floridis demonstrates his flexibility on percussive accompaniment. The quick, lyrical melody is complemented by nimble fingers simultaneously slapping strings while the heel of his hand dampens them. Wow!

The uptempo folk-bluegrass nuance of “Just Make It to the Other Side,” propelled by lickety-split fingerstyle riffs, has cool syncopation as it motors along. And the lilting, mellifluous finale, “He Didn’t Feel a Thing,” sounds as if lyrics could be attached, but aren’t necessary.

Another instrumental success from one of Montana’s best guitarists. The album is available digitally for now, but Floridis plans to release the CD later this year.

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– Mariss McTucker